NEW YORK - Without billions in aid from Washington or Albany’s approval to borrow money, Mayor de Blasio is scrambling to find savings.
The latest announcement: about 9,000 managers in mayoral agencies and the Department of Education and non-union employees will be required to take a week off without pay between October and March next year.
“Something that's very painful to have to announce, has real human consequences, but it is necessary,” the mayor said Wednesday at his daily press briefing.
De Blasio said this move will save the city about $21 million. Last week, the mayor announced he and his own staff would also have to be furloughed for five days, for a total of almost $900,000 in savings.
“A bit of progress and all progress is welcome, but quite frankly it’s a very small drop in a very, very large bucket, that is not only here this year, but recurs in future years,” said Andrew Rein, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission.
The city is facing a revenue shortfall of $9 billion. So far, Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are balking at allowing the city to borrow enough funds long term. That could lead to major reductions in basic city services.
For now, the mayor has delayed potentially laying off up to 22,000 public employees. The furloughs don’t change that possibility.
“No one wants layoffs, but unfortunately they are very much still on the table if we can't find a better alternative,” the mayor said.
Andrew Rein thinks there are other options to close the gap.
“We do not need to fire 22,000 employees or borrow $5 billion now to solve the problem that’s in front of us. What we need to do is improve productivity, reduce the workforce over time through attrition, and work with labor to find those recurring savings, such as the rationalizing health insurance benefits,” he said.
At the moment, negotiations between City Hall and the labor unions are still ongoing.